“Grass Grow”, the opening song on Dolphin Midwives’ breathtaking new record, Liminal Garden, is illusory. Dolphin Midwives’ Sage Fisher’s siren enchantments are ornately pacifying and shrouded in mystique. Her buoyant voice is intersected by warm electronics and looping, revealing an optimal gateway into her vast and stunning world.
Following this harmonic entry, Fisher tugs the listener into a fluttering voice-free realm where everything is in constant shifts. “Junglespell” meditates around a waterfall of harp, lulling one to be still and present, only to be engorged and burst three minutes in with Tim Hecker-like knob turning explosives and decay. Fisher masterfully returns to the faint plucking of harp by the song’s end securing a path to reprieve. “Castleshell” also arises with poetic spells of harp, but the addition and continuous subtractions of electronic processing never let the organics of her strings to dwarf the digitized scope Fisher seems desirous to unearth. “Flux” ends this round of noisy abstractions by ringing, stirring, and fluctuating as if Fisher’s life depended on it. “TEMPLE IV” wisely reshapes Liminal Garden as Fisher’s drone-like harp breeds a very concentrated pulse. Further in, her acoustic tapestries are stretched and reconfigured by mechanical trance.
Side B tiers the altered experiences. Fisher’s voice returns on “Mirror”, tinned yet afloat, her vocals are tethered to her breathless intonations, brushing gentle directives to attention. In less than three minutes, Fisher delivers a bargain of sentiment and thought. “Labyrinth I” scours the land for discoveries. Fisher is at her most meddling and perhaps cure bound, while observing the mysteries trickling forth. The church-like organ sounds mimic a cheerful welcoming, as static cuts and tonal spills mold the nostalgic into something anew.
The sobering “TEMPLE V” peels, chimes, and haunts. The cacophony of sounds overwhelms the senses, successfully displacing all positional thoughts. By the songs end, Fisher pulls back, revealing a nursery-like wind chime rhythm, nodding a return to Mother Nature. Album ender “Iridesce” pastes this homecoming against vocal flutters and blips, materializing from the slightest tilt as Fisher’s amalgam of sound spores spread infinitely.
Juxtaposed between voice/harp and electronic glitch/processing, reveals a previously unseen path. Animate and inanimate passageways converge as Fisher stumbles upon new hues and feminine spark. She eschews previous movements and stages her prowess not solely with trained instruments, but with interpretation and integration. Liminal Garden’s stirring energy and magnetic resolve suggests a new way; one that possibly keeps Odysseus from journeying back to Ithaca.